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The danger of a single story - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

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Study this list of rhetorical devices and answer the fourth question in the "Think" section.

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Additional references


Half of a Yellow Sun
- Amazon

In Nigeria, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novelHalf of a Yellow Sun has helped inspire new, cross-generational communication about the Biafran war. In this and in her other works, she seeks to instill dignity into the finest details of each character, whether poor, middle class or rich, exposing along the way the deep scars of colonialism in the African landscape.

The Thing Around Your Neck - Amazon

Adichie's newest book, The Thing Around Your Neck, is a brilliant collection of stories about Nigerians struggling to cope with a corrupted context in their home country, and about the Nigerian immigrant experience.

To read more about the dangers of a single story and Adichie's work. check out this article.

To learn more about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, check out her other TEDxTalks called, "We should all be feminists."
So how do we reject the single story?

First, we can tell different stories about the places that are prone to reduction. In her TED Talk, Yemeni newspaper editor Nadia Al-Sakkaf takes us to the Yemen she lives in — where terrorism and political upheaval are real problems, but far from the whole picture. Moreover, in her account, each image can tell many stories. A woman with a veiled face can represent the role of fundamentalist Islam in Yemeni society, but she argues that a look behind the veil shows us that many of these women are holding down jobs and earning income, and in so doing, changing their role within their own families and in Yemeni society more broadly.

Watch Al-Sakkaf's TED Talk "See Yemen Through My Eyes" and Tweet @NadiaSakkaf what you learned and how you can do the same in your own life.

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